Montel Williams Treads Carefully in Criticizing Obama on VA

Friday, 30 May 2014 12:21 PM

By Ken Mandel

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The day before President Barack Obama finally forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to quit, talk show host Montel Williams weighed in on the scandal involving multiple VA hospitals that put veterans on secret waiting lists to hide the fact they weren't being seen by doctors in a timely fashion.

In an appearance on CNN's Erin Burnett Out Front Thursday night, Williams began by apologizing to Obama for comments Williams made Wednesday that he felt were politicized. The 57-year-old had criticized Obama on FOX News' "Your World with Neil Cavuto" for something he felt the president failed to say while addressing graduates at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point earlier that day.

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"He could have used the day to say, I'm sorry for the pain that I've caused you, the families, and I'm gonna fix it today!'" Williams said on FOX.

Williams began his CNN interview with remorse.

"I have to apologize to the president of the United States, myself, right now," Williams told CNN. "I have to do so because yesterday I made a statement about something that he didn't say at the speech at West Point and this has been politicized."

Despite that regret, Williams remained incensed about how the VA situation has been handled. He said Obama and Congress need to ensure that West Point graduates will be cared for when they return from the next big war.

"They're trying to send more boys off to die, and we won't even settle the problem here," said Williams, who spent 22 years as a Marine and as a Navy officer.

A video of the longtime talk-show host speaking to a Memorial Day picnic has also gone viral. In that speech, Williams said a war is being waged against veterans.

"Some left body parts in the field of battle and some never made it back," Williams said. "Some of them are here now, and their souls are still there. All societies are judged by what they do for the least of us. The least of us are the ones that protected this democracy. We owe this debt."

On CNN, Williams used a metaphor about cutting off the head of a chicken to make a point that firing VA secretary Eric Shinseki won't solve the issue, though he agreed that Shinseki should go.

"And guess what?" he said towards the end of the segment. "This is our fault. My fault, I'm sorry, your fault. We the people are the ones who got to celebrate this last weekend on Memorial Day on the lives and the body parts left in the field and we don't respect them enough to demand that they get the care that they deserve? Come on!"

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